Lawrence steps up to world stage with 2nd in Dubai Invitational

Jan 14, 2024 | Featured, South Africans abroad

Thriston Lawrence stepped on to the world stage in emphatic fashion on Sunday as he finished in a share of second after the world number 15 player produced a 16-footer for birdie on the final hole to win the DP World Tour’s Dubai Invitational.

Lawrence looked the part every step of the way during his sparking bogey-free final round of seven-under-par 64 saw him finish one shot back of Tommy Fleetwood, and in a share of second with world number two Rory McIlroy.

Lawrence, who had dropped a shot – two during the second – in each of his first three rounds, sauntered through the front nine in three-under, and then put the hammer down during the back nine to hit the front when he birdied 17th for his fourth gain of the homeward stretch.

All the while, Fleetwood and McIlroy were going at it hammer and tongs: The Englishman was serene with three birdies up until the 15th, while McIlroy threw everything into the chase and, after two birdies and a bogey on the front nine, made three birdies in a row from the 11th to the 13th to draw level at the top of the leaderboard.

Then the Northern Irishman inexplicably three-putted from inside three feet on the par-three 14th to make bogey and fall behind. When Fleetwood bogeyed the par-three 16th, Lawrence had a chance to push for victory.

He took his opportunity on the 17th, with a stunning approach to inside nine feet from just over 110 yards. He made birdie then, and, a near-perfect tee-shot on 18 of 294 yards left him 139 in. He was long and left with his approach, but got up and down from the fringe.

In the end, Fleetwood bounced back from his bogey to make birdies on 17 and 18 and edge ahead.

Lawrence was paired for the second day in a row with compatriot Zander Lombard. When Lombard reeled off five birdies in a row from the third, it looked possible that his furious charge could possibly take him to the top. But he bogeyed the ninth, and, after a birdie on the 11th, he put his tee-shot in the water on the par-three 14th. The resultant double-bogey stopped him in his tracks, and he was only able to par his way home. He did manage to finish in a share of sixth.

Hennie du Plessis finished strongly with a five-under 66 taking him to six-under and a share of 23rd in the 60-man field, and Ockie Strydom went two-over in the final round to finish in a share of 40th on one-over.

For Lawrence, it was a superb start to the year, which is alive with promise now.

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